The Real Risk of Non-Investment
Steve Appleby, Managing Director of IIMBE
Change is constant and inevitable in the construction sector, which is why evaluating, adopting and embracing to new approaches, processes and technologies are critical to progressing the industry today.
Fortunately, throughout Australia and New Zealand, we are seeing progressive momentum across the industry with decision makers in the sector increasingly changing their mindset from ‘investing in new solutions’ as a means to an end, to ‘investing in process improvement.’ This is a significant shift in our industry, and shows that large and leading construction companies are starting to more thoroughly understand their processes and only implement technology that supports the processes to become more efficient. But, we still have a way to go to make this standard practice.
Ahead of any investment in a new technology or work practice that requires funding, there will generally be a number of stakeholders, from technicians to accounting and procurement and finally a board of directors, involved in decision making. So, how do we build buy-in for BIM at a board level? Below we outline five simple and smart steps to help achieve that.
1: Make the benefits and business opportunities clear
BIM is much more than 3D design and needs to be explained properly so that board members can appreciate how it will help their business in the future.
BIM is a shared knowledge resource that provides access to a single version of the truth to architecture, engineering and construction professionals to efficiently plan, design, construct and manage assets.
What does that mean? It means that on any given project where there are hundreds of decisions to be made daily, looking for the information to make these decisions shouldn’t take a huge amount of time. With BIM implemented, each stakeholder on a project (from the architect to the sub-contractors) contributes discipline-specific data to a shared project model for a single source of truth which is invaluable for projects big or small.
When implemented correctly on any construction project of scale, BIM can:
- Create efficiencies and savings, so projects are completed on time
- Drive greater collaboration across projects
- Create cost savings, so projects are completed on budget
- Deliver efficiencies on every stage of the project (across design, construction and maintenance)
Production efficiencies and cost savings are real and tangible benefits that are likely to pique the interests of any discerning board.
2: Highlight government requirements
Largely because of the aforementioned productivity gains and cost savings, right across the nation, state and local departments are escalating their efforts to mandate the adoption of BIM, especially in the procurement of infrastructure. In fact, over five years ago, Infrastructure Australia’s 15-year plan recommended Australian governments make BIM mandatory for the design of large-scale complex infrastructure projects.
In the future construction companies may not have a choice of if they want to adopt BIM within their business. If you want to secure a government contract going forward, you will have to be BIM savvy, or likely miss out on work.
Construction companies really only have two choices; wait until the market – via customer requests or legislative requirements – dictates you have to implement digital technology or begin investigating solutions that will become widely used in the future today, so you’re moving forward on your own terms and prepared for where the industry is heading. Good boards keep an eye on the future and it is in their interests to start preparing for the tomorrow they’re going to have to work with, today.
3: Outline real world examples
It is one thing to talk in theory about how a new technology can help your business win contracts and deliver projects on time and on budget, but another to show clear examples of how it works successfully in the real world.
For instance, BIM was implemented on a project with the Ministry for Education in New Zealand. The Ministry for Education was looking for a pilot project and chose a primary school in Canterbury that was planning a $5million extension. It was a smaller scale project, and their aim was to use it as a learning process on the benefits of BIM before rolling it out across the country.
At the conclusion of the project, a workshop was staged with the engineers, architects, contractors, a local BIM consultant and the client. The feedback was universally positive. The Ministry for Education’s contractor, who had never delivered a BIM project before, decided that they would never go back to the way they managed projects in the past, given that they’d never worked on a project that had gone so seamlessly. They were able to get all the trades in and out, they knew exactly who was doing what, where and when.
4: Highlight the cost of not investing
A recent report from KPMG with the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Digital Built Britain, looked at 11 case studies in the UK and found that the use of BIM could potentially secure up to £6.00 of direct labour productivity gains for every £1 invested in BIM, and up to £7.40 in direct cost savings (from reductions in delivery time, labour time and materials).
The same report also found evidence of costs savings at various stages of the asset lifecycle, up to 18%, depending on the lifecycle stage.
With hundreds of decisions to be made on a large-scale infrastructure project on a daily basis, BIM is all about providing the right information, at the right time, to the right person to save time and money.
5: Bring in the experts
Talk to BIM specialists who can help outline how new digital technology investments can save time, money and create business for the future.
Our industry is changing rapidly and knowing what innovations will become critical in the future is difficult, especially if it’s not your area of expertise. At IIMBE we aren’t interested in selling technology for technology’s sake, we take the time to understand your processes first. Then we look at what technology is available to augment, support and make those processes more efficient. When it all boils down to it, our job is to take complex problems and sophisticated systems, and make them simple to use and easy to understand.
Evolve ahead of the market
Engaging with company boards and seeking buy-in for new digital approaches will help to secure funding for projects, along with building a culture of innovation across the company. A board of directors is responsible for the long-term health of a business and helping educate these senior stakeholders around the future direction of the industry, what change is required and where opportunity lies, is critical. After all, as Eric Shinseki, a retired United States Army General, once said, “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.”